Polecam photography with a 5D2, anyone done it?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jamie_robertson|2, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. I'm thinking of making or constructing some sort of pole for my 5D2 to enable me to push it out horizontally over cliffs, waterfalls and out of buildings to obtain some unusual angles for my still photography. Obviously polecam photography with a 5D2 will be a little more difficult due to the weight of the camera and 24-105L combination. I would have no qualms about doing it if I were holding the pole vertically but when pushing the pole out horizontally there will be much more stress on the pole. I intend to take the shots using the tethered shooting function of the EOS software and a long USB lead linked to my Macbook.
    I'm just wondering if any of you have done this sort of thing before with a DSLR and if you have any tips, ideas or advice. So far, my idea for the choice of pole is a long (5 metre / 17ft) fibreglass painters extension pole. I don't want anything too heavy to carry around but it must obviously be strong enough for the task.
  2. I have done it onto stages with a 1Ds MkIII and 16-35. I just use a monopod and a short converted painter pole, with a ballhead if you want to vary the angle, a cheap ebay remote does the focus and shutter or you can use the self timer at a push.
    I haven't tried it with a tethered USB but am thinking of getting an Eye-Fi card for wireless transmission to my iPad.
  3. Thanks Scott, that's not a bad idea about using a monopod. I could possibly slip the monopod inside the end of the painter pole. How did you attach the monopod to your painter pole?
  4. Jamie,
    I used a Shur-Line painters pole from Lowes or Home Depot, they make two lengths and they are pretty solid, they telescope down and have comfy solid foam handles at the right end (as apposed to a monopod that doesn't). But the main reason I used it is the end is metal, so I bought a 3/8-16 drill and tap set and a short length of 3/8-16 threaded rod, I drilled and taped the end of the pole and cut an even shorter section of thread, wound it in so it still protrudes and you can do tons with it, I use it for lighting mostly, but the 3/8-16 thread is also on the bottom of tripod heads.
    The image below has a lighting stud screwed to the 3/8-16 thread, but I can take it off and put a small ballhead on it. If I was making a dedicated camera pole I'd screw a platform on it aswell to give the ballhead a more monopod type connection for extra stability.
  5. When I first read this, I thought about the headline and your insurance company saying "you did what!?".
    I actually had thought about the painter's extension pole for a G10, but wouldn't consider it with a heavier camera unless I also figured out a tethering system to prevent it from falling--it would still crash into the building or cliff face, but at least it wouldn't kill someone down below (I was actually looking at using more as a vertical extension that a lateral one). Scott's use might be ok--the short pole sort of thing, but I just would be cautious going too long, you will be putting a lot of stress on the lateral strength of the components.
    As food for thought, I was looking at needing to tie down a several hundred pound object for a shoot. The eye bolts I was looking at had a very high rating when the load was straight ahead, but when the load was shifted to a 45 deg angle, the load rating dropped all the way to 30% and at 90 degrees(how you describe using the pole) it was only 25%. So, the stresses fully extended with a heavy camera and lens might not be healthy for anyone.
  6. Thanks Scott & John.
    Scott, that's a good idea about threading the top of the painter pole, I'll look into that. I'm in the UK so whatever painter pole I find will be double the price and probably half as long.
    John, it's the lateral stress that's worrying me the most. The 5D2 and 24-105 are a rather heavy combination, especially hanging over a cliff on a pole. I really want to do this as a tethered situation i.e. I want to see the shot on my laptop screen as I take the shot so I'll have no choice but to use the 5D2. I suppose I'll just have to experiment.
  7. Try calling a studio lighting specialist. A lattice overhead gantry can support a tremendous weight of lighting so they may be able to make suggestions. Whatever you do let us know - a length of 4x2 timber with sockets to allow it to be broken down into transportable sections appeals to the bodger within me! Whatever you do, tether the camera separately. As a previous poster suggested a camera dropping onto someone could be interesting for all the wrong reasons.
  8. The 5D2+24-105L is heavy but not *that* heavy IMHO. I reckon a monopod would be a very feasible solution. However, James de H makes a good point about contacting a studio lighting specialist.
  9. A pole with a fulcrum, a counterweight at the opposite end all fastened at a movable clamping point somewhere in the middle to a heavy weighted down tripod may work. A photographers' assistant would be necessary to insure success. As a retired insurance person, there are serious liability issues to include bodily injury and property damage concerns connected with this exercise!
  10. When I said tethered, I was referring to a safety line so the camera and lens don't free fall as James reiterated. Paul brought up a point I thought of last night, the whole fulcrum idea.
    Using the 17 foot pole you mentioned, the approximation that the load (camera with lens and pole's weight) of about 5 pounds, I went to a site that calculates the force necessary to hold that horizontal. Assuming you would extend one arm out about a foot from your end, the force needed is 80 pounds with your other hand at the very end of the pole! Extending your arm out 2 feet, it drops to about 38 pounds of force at your end of the pole. But since the "fulcrum" is you holding the pole, there will also be a lot of force on the hand up front as well--this may not be insignificant either. Using something else as the fulcrum would certainly be advantageous, but in some conditions rather cumbersome to get in position or even to the site. So, there will be some forces to deal with if your pole is too long and that might be a bit daunting if you are also trying to fire and adjust the camera with a laptop.
  11. [[As a retired insurance person, there are serious liability issues to include bodily injury and property damage concerns connected with this exercise!]]
    And yet polecam photography has been going on for quite a while now without major headlines of people being injured and cameras exploding and putting out everyone's eyes...
    A number of kite aerial photography enthusiasts also use polecams. I'd recommend checking out a few KAP-dedicated forms and message boards for additional info and tips.
  12. I think Paul has the right approach, but I'll add one refinement:
    The boom should not be a simple pole, which would wobble considerably. Instead, you should have a short mast extending from the tripod. Then extend a cable from the camera end of the pole to the top of the mast and then to the counterweight end of the pole. This will remove lateral stresses and will redirect them into compression of the pole, vs. tension on the cable. I've seen this approach used by videographers.
  13. I recommend using a prime lens instead of the zoom.
  14. Wow, what a great response to this subject. Thanks to everyone!
    I still want this pole to be easily portable and quick to assemble so cables, counterweights etc will not initially be on my list. I think I'll get hold of a pole and see just how it feels with a 2 kilo weight hanging on the end before I make any other decisions. Unfortunately I don't have any wide angle prime lenses so the 24-105L will have to be the one attached to the camera.
  15. Jamie,
    Have you visited the pole cam web pages? Lots of good info there.

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